Lockdown Life and Beyond
November 19th, 2020
As human beings, routine is something we all find comfort in, even the most care free, whether it's how you get ready in the morning, how you travel from A to B or how you go about your working day. Personally, I live by routine, maybe that's not a good thing but it's just the way I am. So when I had to create a new one from scratch at a moments notice, my brain went into overdrive.
In the scheme of things, my daily schedule and where I park my backside for 8 hours a day is extremely low down the list of worst affected by Covid-19. I've been lucky enough to continue my job and get paid, I live with my young family so I have company, even if it is akin to an episode of Eastenders at times, I have decent indoor and outdoor space and I have more streaming service's than I'll ever have time to consume.
At a high level, things really aren't all that bad for me. Yeah I miss going out for a pint and a game of darts, visiting nice places, going to the gym and also going into the office, but these are all luxuries we can live without, there's not much more to it, right?
Unfortunately it's not that cut and dry. Like many people I've spoken to, readjusting to working from home took many weeks, productivity was sporadic, anxiety of job security went sky high, the novelty of video calls (work and social) morphed into a feeling of isolation and I feel like the entire broadcasting team of Radio 2 are my new friends. The thing is, this is my new routine, I've somehow adjusted to this way of life and my old routine seems like a million miles away and when the time comes, it's going to take a good few weeks of readjusting back into, but do I really want to anyway?
This is not to say I wish to stay as I am, far from it, but as time passes I'm starting to realise that we won't just return to 'normal', the next adjustment is likely to be a hybrid of old and new, and I'd be lying if I said that returning to any kind of normality didn't make me anxious, I may not be having a carnival right now but I have developed a protective isolation bubble.
Going back to normal is not going to be easy for many of us. This may seem like an odd way to describe the anxieties that run through my mind about it, but bare with me. I envisage it being similar to having a fantastic holiday, spending months reminiscing then going back again and trying to have the same experience, only to find it's not quite the same and by comparison it's a bit of a let down. Now I know that's a bit glass half empty but perhaps it doesn't have to be like that at all!
Normal life 2.0
Maybe normal life 2.0 could be the opposite of that holiday analogy, what if the first holiday was decent but perhaps it could have been a lot better? What if the first holiday was spent doing less than you'd hoped and you barely looked beyond the pool and beach? The brochure listed a stack of things you could see and do when you were there but each day you didn't feel like it or lacked the motivation. On reflection, you probably wish you had done those things, and maybe now we have a chance to build up the motivation and inspiration to go out there (when allowed) and do them.
Ok, so enough of the holiday talk, mine got cancelled anyway so I didn't even get to the airport never mind the pool and beach! Top and bottom of it is, being locked down has made me realise that I didn't use my time as wisely as I perhaps should have done when I had the chance, I really want to change that, and like most I'll have one hell of a list of new years resolutions in 2021.
Not being allowed to do things, even things that you may not have done anyway, makes you want to do them. I'm not talking about armed robbery, mugging old ladies or worse still wandering around the supermarket without a mask, I mean things like going to the theatre or visiting an art gallery. I've never actually been to the theatre and being stuck at home has made me question myself as to why. It's not like I never wanted to go, I mean it's a bit more sophisticated than a pint and a game of darts, but I'm adaptable.
The more time I've been spending thinking about these things, it's become more and more apparent that what had actually been stopping me was my routine, the same routine I mentioned earlier that took me weeks to readjust from. Get up at a certain time, take the same journey to work, get a coffee at roughly the same time, walk to the gym the same route, come home on the same train, watch tv, go to bed, wake up, repeat. Pretty boring really, even Friday nights involved standing at the same spot at the bar.
Has lockdown actually broken me out of something that I didn't even realise was holding me back? I'm really starting to think so. Did I spend 2 or 3 months reminiscing about things that were in fact pretty boring and uninspiring? Or have I just reached a point of pure madness and I'm just talking utter nonsense? I don't think I am, but I will get a second opinion. Just in case.
So what am I going to do about it? Well, booking theatre tickets seems like the simple answer, but what I really need to do is to avoid getting back into that rut. At the time I thought it was fine, mundane at times but fine, but do I really want to get back into that constant loop, no, I definitely don't. So here's some things I'm going to try and do instead and have new things to look forward to....
Go to the theatre (obvs)
Go to a nice restaurant once a month
Join a new gym
Book a weekend away every 3 months
Have at least one organised family activity per month
Earn more money (to pay for the first 5)
I reckon six is fine for now, need to keep it realistic. But then there's another list of work based changes I want to make. Monday to Friday office work is likely going to be a thing of the past so there's a change straight away. but smaller changes will include....
Join in with more social activities
Enjoy the ability to work at home or in the office
Appreciate the value of face to face interaction
Just mentally committing to make the effort to carry out these changes is actually inspiring in itself. With more news on vaccines and little lights starting to flicker at the end of this most incredibly surreal tunnel, it may not be long before we're back out there appreciating life and the freedom we have.
So there you have it, Einstein once said "in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity", and perhaps that opportunity is as simple as making little changes to help make ourselves feel happier.
I'm not sure if this helps anyone else, I'd like to think it did, but it has certainly allowed me to process things and start mentally preparing for normal life 2.0, see you when we get there folks.